The balance of Will Muschamp’s tenure at South Carolina has been by most measures more good than bad.
His first two seasons saw jumps of three wins, each outperforming preseason expectations. His third season saw a failure to meet lofty preseason expectations and didn’t meet internal standards (he’s said this several times).
Now his Gamecocks face likely the hardest schedule in the country next season. That confluence of event caught the attention of SEC Network analyst and host Paul Finebaum, who had some harsh words about the USC’s situation.
“The seat probably should be (hot), but I’m not sure it is,” Finebaum said The Roundtable on WJOX FM in Birmingham. “I say this only because I’ve talked to the president of South Carolina and the athletic director recently and they have just put up this stiff upper lip about Will Muschamp. I think it would take an absolute disaster of a season to unload him because they’re now blaming Spurrier for everything that has gone wrong in Will Muschamp’s tenure. Ray Tanner the other day said, ‘We all love coach Spurrier, but he didn’t leave the program, I’m paraphrasing, in great shape from a recruiting standpoint.’”
Spurrier left the team halfway through a 3-9 campaign and has said multiple times he left a bad situation behind. He did leave a few future NFL players like Deebo Samuel, Hayden Hurst, Chris Lammons and Taylor Stallworth, but the staff has worked with constant scarcity at the front and back ends of the defense.
It’s also worth noting, the expectations for 2018 were built partially on a softer schedule heavy on teams in transition. Two of those teams, Florida and Texas A&M, finished No. 7 and No. 17 respectively. Those projections had USC shaking off a losing streak against Kentucky, and instead the Wildcats made the jump to top-12 team.
Per Bill Connolly’s S&P+, the Gamecocks had the ninth-hardest schedule in the country.
Finebaum in turn invoked Georgia, a team coming off 19 wins in two seasons in the heart of one of the most talent-rich states in the country, and Kirby Smart as a comparison.
“I think that’s ridiculous at this point,” Finebaum said, speaking of the references to what Spurrier left. “We all know Muschamp and Kirby Smart have been at their program for the same exact time. One was left in better shape, but when you’re in Year 4, you really ought to just knock off on the excuses. I thought last year was certainly under-performing and the schedule this year is extremely difficult. … I don’t think he’s going to lose his job this year. I think South Carolina people are more setting it up for the next year if things go haywire.”